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What We're Watching: Angry India

What We're Watching: Angry India

Indians hit the streets – Large demonstrations have erupted in the Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata over a new bill that offers religious minorities from neighboring countries a faster path to Indian citizenship, in practice excluding Muslims. Hundreds have been injured in clashes with police, and PM Narendra Modi has called for calm. Critics charge that any religious-based exception to current law violates the secular principles enshrined in India's constitution. Some warn that this is an attempt by the ruling party, the Hindu nationalist BJP, to bolster its political support by stoking anti-Muslim feeling among Hindus at a time of slowing economic growth.


Thais do too – This weekend, several thousand people in Bangkok protested the army-dominated government's moves to outlaw the opposition Future Forward party. The demonstrations were the largest since a coup in 2014 put an end to years of increasing tensions between "red shirt" Thais loyal to the exiled populist billionaire, and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and "yellow shirts" loyal chiefly to the monarchy and the military. Future Forward, which is also led by a billionaire, the 41-year old Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has loose ties to the red shirt movement but has cast itself chiefly as the leading voice of younger Thais fed up with the political deadlock and the army's influence over the state. The authorities allowed the protests over the weekend, but as Future Forward looks to hold larger demonstrations in the coming weeks, we're watching to see how the government – and other opposition groups – respond.

The greatest goal in protest history – Football/soccer fans will argue forever about who scored the greatest goal of all time on the pitch, but when it comes to street protests, this Lebanese guy's no-hands handling of a tear gas canister in mid-volley is up there with Zidane's 2002 one-touch beauty against Leverkusen. You have to see it to believe it.

What We're Asking

Sports and China's human rights abuses – Speaking of football, another professional sports club found itself enmeshed in global politics over the weekend, when Arsenal star Mesut Özil, who is of Turkish descent, blasted Beijing for its well-documented persecution of Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group. In China, where Arsenal is immensely popular, state TV immediately dropped an Arsenal match broadcast. Arsenal quickly disavowed Özil's comments. The episode recalled the NBA's recent run-in with China over the same issue. So we ask you: should professional sports clubs or leagues use their visibility and reach to take a stand on major human-rights issues? Should players weigh in? Or should sports and politics be kept separate? Let us know here.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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